Over the past few weeks, courts across America have gradually and methodically reviewed — and ultimately thrown out — federally imposed vaccination mandates. From President Biden’s attempted takeover of private companies through OSHA to requiring federal employees to be vaccinated, the courts are finally waking up from the COVID-induced fever dream according to which the God-given rights of mankind can be ignored in an “emergency”.
Just last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit reiterated that religious Americans cannot be forced to give up their conscience in order to preserve their livelihoods.
After years of watching federal judges insert their personal political agendas into their rulings, we finally have judges with the insight – and the courage – to ignore political forces and adhere to the fundamental tenet of the American constitutional republic that government, including the judiciary, exists solely to protect the freedom given to us by our Creator.
In last week’s decision in Sambrano v. United Airlines, two justices, Jennifer Elrod and Andrew Oldham, have added to their list of decisions that explain the once obvious and now revolutionary notion that the natural right of conscience is protected by federal law. The case surrounded a mandate where United Airlines gave its employees a “choice”: receive the COVID-19 vaccine or be placed on indefinite, unpaid leave. Several employees seeking religious dispensation from the vaccine filed a lawsuit. A lower court declined to issue a preliminary injunction, but the 5th Circuit came to a different conclusion.
Judges Elrod and Oldham determined that the “accommodation” offered by United, without pay for possibly months or even years, was no accommodation at all and in fact placed the employees in a perpetual crisis of conscience and purgatory.
In other words, the judges concluded that losing one’s job primarily because of one’s religious beliefs is harmful and illegal.
Cue the predictable hysterics on the left. Since many on the left consider that history began with the election of Barak Obama, Donald Trump is therefore the most notorious villain in history. So it follows that calling a judge “named Trump, Trumpist, or Trumpy” is the ultimate insult. Throw in for good measure an Illuminati-esque conspiracy theory directed against Federalist society and one is justified in calling for “consequences” for judges whose rulings serve as a defensive bulwark for those who oppose cultural orthodoxy. and the forced march towards a liberal utopia.
Of course, even among textualist, originalist, or conservative jurists, there should be room for the inevitable disagreement about the means and methodology of protecting conscience rights. Tragically, Judge Jerry Smith, the third judge on the 5th Circuit panel, decided to rely as much on hyperbole in his dissent as on the law. Securely ensconced in a lifetime tenure, he showed no empathy for those who are deprived of the means to support their families and contempt for those who do, namely Elrod and Oldham. Such a rant against his colleagues has no place in the case file and calls into question whether he still possesses the vaunted judicial temper we hear so much about in judicial confirmation hearings.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time Smith has shown an aversion to protecting religious freedom. In 2015, he voted for another federal mandate that required religious organizations to provide abortion drugs under the Affordable Care Act. No accommodation. No protection. Four of Smith’s fellow justices disagreed, saying the case went to the “heart of religious freedom” and that the decision to deny that freedom was “tragic”.
Luckily for victimized United Airlines employees, Smith’s reluctance to protect a basic freedom when it becomes unpopular has not taken the day away. Justices Elrod and Oldham did. These judges recall the exhortation found in The Bible According to Mark Twain:
“Let men label you as they may, if you alone of all the nation decide a course, and let that course be the right course by your convictions of right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country , look up cause you have nothing to be ashamed of No matter what the press says No matter what the politicians or the crowds say No matter if the whole country decides something bad is something good Republics are founded on one principle above all else: the demand that we stand up for what we believe in, regardless of the odds or the consequences.When the crowds, the press and the world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree by the river of truth and say to the whole world, ‘No. You’re moving'”